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The Fear of Evil

The Fear of Evil

by David G. Duggan ©
April 26, 2021

Surely the most famous passage in Scripture, perhaps all literature is the 23rd Psalm. Routinely read at baptisms, weddings, funerals and everything in between, in language that has been seared into our souls, the 23rd Psalm describes the Lord as leader, companion and follower on our earthly pilgrimage. Not even the modern translations, removing the consequential "therefore" to our lacking nothing from our Lord, or the celebratory "yea" to our walk through the valley of the shadow of death, can diminish its simple elegance of purpose, praise and thanksgiving.

But while we contemplate the Lord's provision of green pastures, still waters, and overflowing cups, the center of the Psalm is "I shall fear no evil." Surrounded by beautiful imagery, the Psalmist's evil surrounds us and we cannot escape its clutches. How can the God of right pathways, Who leaves in our wake goodness and mercy, provide an exit to this curse?

Fear is I suppose the natural response to evil, the strong bulls of Bashan and roaring lions of the 22nd Psalm giving image to the fears we feel. The Lord's rod and staff can keep them at bay for a time but not forever.

"I am the Good Shepherd," Jesus said, giving earthly voice to the Psalmist's deepest desire uttered a thousand years earlier. "I lay down my life for my sheep." Alone that sacrifice wouldn't calm our fears, wouldn't give us hope for the prepared table in the presence of our enemies. New bulls and lions would replace the old ones.

But the Resurrection completes the story, providing the dwelling place the Psalmist foretold: our fears wrapped in the Lord forever.

David Duggan is a retired attorney living in Chicago

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